December 1st, 2016
The Fall 2016 As-U-R Book Club Seminar has officially come to an end. Students ended the semester by presenting a final project about their literacy sponsors. This project was open to include anyone who has encouraged academic success or supported our students in an impacting way. Students were not given any particular guidelines and many pursued very creative routes for the presentation of their final project. Samantha Tyer chose to use poetry to portray what her literacy sponsor means to her:
Sirens singing a lullaby
their songs called out to me.
Steering me to the rocks ahead
none of which I could see.
Shrowed in mystery
my ship was no longer free.
The woes of the world weighed down on me,
making the song so sweet.
Headed for a tragic end
that only others could see.
Had their tune not shaken my sleep
there's no telling where I would be.
Back in control of my ship,
the sirens faded far.
The world was my own again,
thanks to their bravery.
October 31st, 2016
In honor of Halloween falling on a Monday,As-U-R celebrated with pumpkin painting and treats. I waited until the morning of Halloween to purchase 30 pumpkins, which was not my greatest decision. After checking almost every grocery store in Boone, Food Lion came through with pie pumpkins and I bought every single one they had. Close call.
That afternoon, we all consumed way too much sugar and enjoyed taking a break from academics. Students enjoyed painting pumpkins, and I think it is safe to say that John's spider pumpkin takes the cake for most creativity. Alec's pumpkin with the eyebrow ring is a close second.
While it was fun to take a break from the rigor of school, students are now beginning to feel the stress of the end of the semester and looming finals. As-U-R has been abnormally busy this semester, but there are no doubts that 2016 will end in a success for our students.
Learning Outside the Lines
September 1st, 2016
My book club students are in full swing reading "Learning Outside the Lines," by Jonathan Mooney and David Cole. Students have been taking turns leading dicussion, which has continually blown me away with the great ideas these individuals have. Hearing each student's indvidual journey through the institution of education has been so rewarding and has only made me realize even more how resilient our students are. Yesterday's class sparked a conversation about the detrimental impact academic success has had on each student, and what they lost in their attemps to be "educated." We spoke about how our identities are formed by our academic success for much of our lives. Unfortunately, there is no grade for emotional intelligence or creative thinking at the grade school level. I am so encouraged to see our student's engaging in these challenging conversations, and to see them grow each semester they are at Appalachian. Thankfully, the structure of college is a great change for many of our students and they are now given an opportunity to grow their interests, and to expand their knowledge outside of the constricting walls of their earlier education.
Allison Holder initiated a great activity yesterday during her time of being discussion leader. She asked each student in the room, "What is your passion and what motivates you to be here?" She wrote each individual response on the board and the responses blew me away. Learning does not have to be fear-based, and letter grades do not determine your identity. These students are more than just letter grades. Fostering each individual learning styles is a true challenge, but these students are a great model of perseverance. Whether it be gaining experience to help others, or breaking the mold a poor role model has set for you, something motivates all of us to be here. Normalcy is an idealized conception and I am encouraged daily in this role to see these students overcoming weaknesses and to continue to positively impact those around them.
Spring 2016 Academic Review
May 25th, 2016
Our Spring 2016 semester wrapped up nicely and all finals grades have been submitted. Our students worked incredibly hard this past semester and as a result, I wanted to share some of As-U-R's academic successes. Of our 37 students who were enrolled throughout the spring semester, we finished with an average semester GPA of 2.79 and a cummulative GPA of 2.55. In terms of academic probation, we began the Fall 2015 semester with 9 students on academic probation and began the Spring 2016 semester with only 5 on academic probation. I am happy to announce that almost all of our students were able to get off academic probation at the conclusion of this past spring semester and exceed the University minimum GPA of 2.0. Congratulations to our students who worked tirelessly to achieve their goals. You all are persistent and I commend you on your ability to set goals for yourselves and achieve them. Great job, everyone! Looking forward to another successful semester in the fall.
First Annual As-U-R Benefit
April 29th, 2016 - The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts
The First Annual As-U-R Benefit was a success! All fundraising goals were exceeded and the event brought in over $10,000. Thank you to all of our kind donors who generously gave at the event. Your donations are appreciated and are used well in the maintenance of College STAR on Appalachian's campus. As our grant funding comes to a close, we are overwhelmed with our current fundraising success. To keep the fundraising going, College STAR will be participating in Chetola's First Cardboard Box Regatta on August 21st, 2016. All proceeds will go to College STAR/As-U-R and The Hunger and Health Coalition. Be on the lookout for more news regarding fundraising opportunities for College STAR. Thank you again to all who support this program and its conitinued growth. We are already looking forward to the Second Annual As-U-R Benefit!
As-U-R Student Interview:
December 15th, 2015
For Zoe Smith, a freshman in the As-U-R program at Appalachian State, it is all about being an advocate. First she learned to advocate for herself as a middle school student with a learning difference. At East Chapel Hill High School, she started a support group for students with learning disabilities. Now she’s a participant and advocate for the College STAR program at Appalachian State.
“I love talking to people about my learning differences, ” Zoe said. “I’m going to have them for the long run. It’s me-- so why not be open about it.”
A kindergarten teacher first alerted Zoe’s parents that she might have learning challenges. She was tested and had a 504 plan throughout elementary, middle and high school. She received support at the Hill Center as well as accommodations in the public school setting.
So finding the right level of support in college was a high priority, and she applied to Appalachian State precisely because of the As-U-R program. Zoe participates in study skills seminar classes twice a week and spends at least seven hours in Study Central. She has particularly high praise for Jamie Inlow, head of the Component A programs at Appalachian State.
“Zoe has so much drive to succeed and stay ahead on her academics. She never hesitates to reach out for assistance, and she continues to impress me with her desire to be an ambassador for Appalachian's As-U-R program." Inlow said.
A business management student, Zoe hopes to eventually combine her interests in fashion and non-profit organizations. She’s excited about the possibility of becoming a mentor through the Eye-to-Eye chapter at Appalachian State. Eye-to Eye is a national mentoring organization that utilizes an arts-based curriculum to pair middle school students with a learning disability or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with college students with similar diagnoses as a means of academic and personal empowerment.
She already knows the advice she would give to younger students. “Keep on fighting to get what you need to support yourself educationally. Always advocate for yourself.”